An ACT foster family was told to perform an acknowledgement of country "regularly throughout the day" after seeking guidance on cultural practices for an Aboriginal child in their care, a committee has found.
The Our Booris, Our Way committee is reviewing cases of Aboriginal children in care. It found concerning practices and processes within the ACT child protection system particularly in relation to cultural care plans.
Another case outlined in a letter to the minister was of a young person being prescribed totem animals of an opossum and iguana, neither of which are native to Australia.
"The situation would be comical if not so extraordinarily and deeply consequential to a child's understanding of their own culture, identity and connection," the committee said.
The committee also expressed concerns about the lack of monitoring and documentation on file about the state of the children in care, and the lack of support being offered to Aboriginal kinship carers.
The revelations come in the third set of recommendations handed to the Minister for Children, Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith by the committee.
The recommendations include better access to legal representation, access to support for kinship carers and improving the quality and monitoring of cultural care plans.
The committee found that a high number of Aboriginal children had cultural care plans in place, 108 out of 131, but the quality was low. The care plans are developed to ensure the child stays connected to country and their community. However, just 35 care plans were provided to the foster or kinship family.
There was just one case where a plan was developed in consultation with an Aboriginal agency. In nine cases, the plans were developed in consultation with the child's community.
Committee chair Barbara Causon said they had "grave concerns" about the quality, implementation and monitoring of the plans, and that was before they found out how many were being prepared in isolation of family or community.
She said it was frustrating to work with the government on these issues as they were too slow to act to try to improve the system.
"The first recommendation we made six months ago was around changing the allocation process for placing when the kids first come in, to make sure cases for Aboriginal children were only allocated to case workers with cultural experience and cultural awareness training," Ms Causon said.
The recommendation was agreed to by the government, but during April just eight of the 18 Aboriginal cases that came in had been allocated to an appropriately trained person, Ms Causon said.
She said that meant more than half of cases were being allocated to inexperienced case workers who potentially had no idea about Aboriginal history or culture.
"That's an appalling result. It is indefensible. You've done nowhere near enough to address that recommendation, even though it was agreed to months ago."
"We want to see better and faster progress against the recommendations we're making."
Ms Stephen-Smith said work had started on implementing the previous recommendations. The recommendations would develop better practices to help keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children "safe, strong and connected".
"We know we still have work to do and that is why this review is so important," she said.
She agreed it was important to keep Aboriginal children and young people connected to their culture and families.
"These recommendations will help to improve the quality and relevance of cultural plans," she said.